Is There a Monster in Lake Champlain?

Two Fishermen Say They Saw It and Caught It on Tape

Feb. 22, 2006 —

Residents near Lake Champlain in New York say they have their own Loch Ness monster. They call it Champ, and it's a local legend.

It is the inspiration for parade floats, T-shirts, key chains, minor-league baseball team mascots, and wild stories.

ABC News obtained exclusive video of something just under the surface of the lake that some say may be Champ. The video was taken by two fishermen with their digital camera last summer. Before their supposed sighting, they were Champ skeptics.

"It was as big around as my thigh," said fisherman Peter Bodette. "I'm 100 percent sure of what we saw. I'm not 100 percent sure of what it was."

"It made my hair stand on end at the time," said fisherman Dick Affolter. "It just didn't fit anything -- any creature I had seen."

Affolter said they never saw the entire body.

"What we saw always stayed at the surface and parts of it would come above the water, like the back of the nose or the head," he said.

In the past, grainy pictures and home video taken from too far away did not provide a clear picture. This footage -- showing an odd wake -- is from a closer vantage point, but still not clear.

Lake Champlain Lore

So far, there have been hundreds of sightings -- sometimes more than a dozen a year -- of Champ.

"There are people who say they've seen something unusual in the lake," said Lohr McKinstry, a reporter for the Press Republican, who has been writing about Champ sightings for more than 20 years. "Some sort of unusual life that shouldn't be there in Lake Champlain. Best guess would be that it is some sort of creature that possibly should be extinct."

The Champ frenzy began in the 1880s when P.T. Barnum offered $50,000 for the capture of Champ dead or alive. Hunters and fishermen came out of the woods, but no one was able to collect.

As for the latest sighting, two retired FBI analysts reviewed the tape and said that it appeared authentic.

"I can't find anything in there that would suggest or indicate to me that this has been fabricated or manipulated in any way," said Gerald Richards, a forensic image analyst. "However, there's no place in there that I can see actually see, an animal or any other object on the surface."